DCW chief displeased with SC judgment on adultery

Says decriminalising adultery will give a ‘licence to people to have illegitimate relationships’

September 28, 2018 01:39 am | Updated 01:39 am IST - NEW DELHI

New Delhi: Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal addresses a press conference regarding the initiatives taken by the commission in the past three years, in New Delhi on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)  (PTI7_24_2018_000062B)

New Delhi: Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal addresses a press conference regarding the initiatives taken by the commission in the past three years, in New Delhi on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma) (PTI7_24_2018_000062B)

Following the Supreme Court judgment decriminalising adultery, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal said that it is a “licence to people to have illegitimate relationships”.

Expressing “disappointment” over the judgment, Ms. Maliwal said, “The Supreme Court should have made the law gender neutral by criminalising the adulterous relationships by men as well as women. Instead they have decriminalised the act of adultery. The Supreme Court has given an open general licence to the people of this country to have illegitimate relationships while being in marriage.”

Activists hail decision

However, several people on social media and activists welcomed the apex court judgment.

Activist Kavita Krishnan said, “This judgment was long overdue as it was a highly patriarchal one where the wife was treated as the husband’s ‘property’. Adultery is a matrimonial offence but that does not mean that it needs to be criminalised. We had been demanding this for a very long time.”

Responding to Ms. Maliwal’s response to the judgement, Ms. Krishnan said, “She is stating that adultery should have been criminalised for both men and women. But what does this mean? Does she mean that the other woman should be criminalised? It looks as if she is not bothered about the law.”

Civil offence

Further Ms. Krishnan in a tweet said, “Extra-marital affairs are not being licenced. They are grounds for divorce. A civil offence is not and should not be a criminal offence. No feminist group in the world would have a different position, nor would any democratic country.”

‘Husband’s property’

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, in a tweet said, “Another fine judgment by the SC striking down the antiquated law in Section 497 of Indian Penal Code, which treats women as property of husbands and criminalise adultery. Adultery can be ground for divorce but not criminal.”

The DCW however maintained that it has launched a survey to “ascertain problems” faced by women whose husbands are in adulterous relationships.

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